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Love the Acrylic beetle paintings man, keep up the good work^^!
Regarding to that photo study, I think you could explore the contrast between soft and hard edges a bit more, in order to achieve more firmness and a solid look. Besides, having a larger value range helps building up the volume, so don't be afraid of making some of the highlights brighter and some of the shadows darker; specially where the ambient occlusion happens, for example, where the finger touches the face, the wrinkle between the cheek and the nostril and in the superior palpebral fold, there shoud be a hard edge completely black in those places, because light can't reach them. Hope this helps, keep up the work! :)
IrishWhiskey-Thank you. Yes, gouache is a fun medium. You should definitely do some stuff with it.

Mylqin-Thank you.

Clarisse Silva-Thank you, I will keep that in mind. What you've mentioned is pertinent to what I'm working on at the moment, which I am covering in this post.

It's been a pretty slow start to the year for me, in terms of working on stuff. Let's rectify that!

[Image: portrait_of_a_friend_by_personinator-d8d255n.jpg]

A painting I finished last night that is quite a personal piece, in terms of subject matter. Patrick was kind enough to give me a very solid critique on this piece, so I intend to integrate what he has given me.

One of the things he recommended I do (as many of you have suggested already) is to work on my values more. He gave me some ideas for exercises to do to study lighting, so here's a quick drawing of a clementine orange under a strong light.

[Image: 26p5oKx.jpg?1]

I intend to do more of this, as it's what I plan to focus on at the moment (along with perspective). Any feedback you guys have would be very helpful.
Some more minor bits of meat:

[Image: TXQ26CE.jpg]

A quick gouache sphere study.

[Image: VR8yoSx.jpg]

A master study segment referenced from David With the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. I was focusing on the light source and values in this one, above getting the details in. I'm probably going to do more master studies of similar pieces to observe how they handle values.

[Image: what_could_have_been_by_personinator-d8dbsxf.jpg]

Lastly, a silly little comic strip I drew. Not really sure why I'm posting it here, but it's something.
[Image: the_prophet_by_personinator-d8dgl0w.jpg]\

Here's a painting I finished last night.
Man, I've been feeling very low about my work recently. It may be due to other things going on in my life right now, but I feel I never really communicate the messages or concepts the way I want to in my work. I'm also becoming increasingly doubtful about becoming an illustrator for a living. It's petty, but I additionally feel pretty fed up with having hardly anyone view my stuff on the art sites I use (excluding this one, you guys are great). I know it's all about doing it for yourself, which is my intention, but man, it would be nice to have a couple of people actually like what I do. I don't know, maybe I'm just in a shitty mood at the moment.

I made a new DeviantArt profile as I feel my previous gallery was cluttered up with awful stuff. I'm hoping to moderate what I post much more on this new account. The link's in my signature, in case you were wondering, you probably weren't though.


[Image: kTf6E9A.jpg]

A master value study sketch I did of Rembrandt's portrait of Johannes Wtenbogaert.

[Image: VvqJIIU.jpg]

A silly drawing, based on something I drew when I must have been about four or five.
Still feel pretty crappy about my work, to the point I'm finding it hard to get some drawings and paintings I want to do down because I'm worried no one will like them. It's really petty, I know. I wish I could go back to not having such a regard as to whether people like my work or not. I don't know if you guys have ever felt like this, any advice?

Anyway, I've started using vine charcoal sticks for drawings recently. Below is a quick mannequin study I did. I honestly don't feel confident with this medium at all, so any tips would be great.

[Image: ZTe38tA.jpg]
I have some advice bro: stop posting your work online haha there's nothing wrong with keeping a personal sketchbook. Before the art forum mentality was born, people never had to worry about sharing their work online and documenting everrrryyy smear of lead on paper and drop of paint in a book or canvas. There are plenty of professional artists who are well off and successful who never share sketches, "bad work" or even "good work" As long as you have a circle of trust that is able to support you and give you informative critiques...ultimately, those who have your best interest in mind, you don't NEED to worry about such trivial things as another's opinion.

Though it is admirable to keep a sketchbook and update it consistently, showing the failures and successes of your artistic journey: it isn't necessary.

However, we all suck in the beginning so don't worry if someone doesn't like your art, especially in wonderful groups such as the crimson daggers. You need to realize a lot of people that are members here are AT or WERE at your current level...we're all here trying to improve, man. Continue posting and if you need direction and critique, just ask. Nobody is going to poopoo on you for trying to get better.

OH! Think of it like this though: how are you going to inspire others in the future if you aren't completely honest with your peers in the present? Post the shitty work because you WILL improve and the contrast between your new and old stuff will REALLY motivate others. Yes, it feels a bit exploiting at first, but if you won't do it for yourself, at least do it for the younger artists of the future who will undoubtedly go through the same thing you are going through and will CONTINUE to go though. Create the road map for those individuals. Be a trail blazer, man...

Or not; don't feel obligated to do anything simply because everyone else is doing it. Can't have leaders without followers...
Hello there, Mannyhaatz. I can see where you're coming from, though truth is there is actually quite a lot of stuff I don't post online. I actually considered posting some preliminaries sketches and scribbles I did for some of the previously mentioned paintings and drawings on here, but decided not to.

As I was saying, I just feel inferior to many others out there, including a number of people here, who have people that genuinely like their work. I feel that I'm yet to encounter anyone who can actually say that about my work. Again, it's petty, I know. All I really want is for people to enjoy my stuff, really.

I am very thankful for the feedback I receive here at CD, though. You guys have been and continue to be a great help. Perhaps I'm just a bit sick of the fact I've been drawing for about six years now (perhaps "seriously" for about a year or two) and yet I feel I've made very little progress. I've seen people who have been drawing for mere months who are better than I am. I know it's not a competition, it just makes me feel very inferior and makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing wrong.


Sorry about the wall of text, I thought I may as well respond to your rather thoughtful reply. Thanks man, I appreciate it.
Stardust, I can see noticeable improvement in your pieces since I critiqued you. I think the exercises are really helping a lot, and if you keep doing them you'll get even better. You're doing a great job balancing between studies and your own personal work, which is a guaranteed way to improvement.

A note on vine charcoal: it's generally looked down upon as a serious rendering material. Most of the time it's used only as a preliminary sketch for paintings and nothing else. I suggest you go buy some compressed charcoal or something (it looks very rectangular, as opposed to vine which literally looks like a burnt stick). Charcoal sticks have small amounts of glue in them which help bind to the paper and therefore allow you to achieve deeper blacks and a larger range of values, as well as stick to the paper easier. There is also conté de paris charcoal (it's a brand i believe, rather than a "type" of charcoal) which has a higher proportion of glue in it. It's much less malleable than regular charcoal, but it has the deepest blacks possible. You don't need to have that as well, regular charcoal is fine, but I just wanted you to be aware of it. With that said you've done an excellent job handling the vine charcoal, despite it's limitations, and from what i see here I think you have a more intuitive understanding of charcoal and paint than you do of cross hatching. I'm not saying don't do pencil shading, but you have to work within your natural strengths, at least while you are still learning, if you want to avoid the fluctuations and frustrations so prevalent among artists.

Here's a good quote, that I think sums that up and, also, might help you in your art slump:

"Many people are obstinate about the path once it is taken, few people about the destination." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

I have to commend you if you've been drawing for six years, not seen as much improvement as you'd have liked, yet have continued regardless. Most people would have given up in 6 days. That said, the above quote, I think, might be good to keep in mind in the future. Essentially, the way I understand it is, don't give up on your dreams, but if the road you've chosen isn't getting you there at a reasonable rate, find a new one. I've seen far too many people give up on their passion because the road they chose didn't meet their expectations. Be obstinate about your passion, not how you get there. I was not satisfied with my experience in art school, and so chose to quit and pursue self-education. I'm lucky enough to be in a situation where it's relatively easy to do so, and i realize not everyone has this luxury, but look for ways in your own life that might yield similar results. If you're completely self-educating right now, and you're not seeing what you want, maybe it's time to concede and go to school or take up night course of some sort or find a mentor. I don't know your life situation at the moment, so I cant give super concrete advice, but think about it.

Something that has helped me immensely in all facets of life is to look outside your comfort zone/sphere of influence/ whatever you want to call it for advice. Have you ever done a martial art or looked into the principles guiding martial arts? The major ones in judo are particularly interesting, and I think are especially useful for artists; namely:

1) Maximum efficiency, minimum effort;
2) Mutual welfare and benefit

In judo, you're not allowed to strike. It's assumed that your assailant is acting irrationaly, and so hurting him will aggravate the situation rather than pacify him. His irrationality also generates significant energy in the form of an assault, which is the perfect opportunity for you, as a calm, well meaning individual, to redirect it and pacify him. Neither of you are hurt significantly, you have conserved maximum energy while succesfully diverting his attack, and, hopefully, calmed him in the process.

How does this help you? Think of the feelings you have as an assailant. They are the ideal catalyst to make you want to work harder. Rather than let them dominate you and force you into submission, redirect their energy for both of your benefits; your mind will no longer be clouded with negative emotions and you will also be able to put out work knowing that things aren't really as bad as they seem. Even if someone outwardly hates you or your work, regardless of how justified or not it is, use it to your advantage, rather than your hindrance.

The idea of mutual welfare and benefit also applies to people you show your work to. Here's a quote from a book I read a while ago:
"Because artists are anxious […] they tend to mythologize marketplace players and turn agents into ogres or gods, small-press editors into villains or saviors, patrons into idiots or royalty.They forget[…] that the other person is simply a person."

The people you show your work to are just as interested in wanting to see your work be good as you are in receiving their praise. Don't ever forget that people, even on the internet, have their own wants and desires. So rather than demonize these websites or people that you're showing work to, look at them as people that want to be able to hire you, or want to be able to like your work (cause they really do), and use that knowledge to your benefit, so that some day you might be able to benefit them as well.

The author also argues that artists have an inherent desire to thrill, seduce and impress their audience. They want to have their ideas heard, and for that reason often carelessly run into the marketplace and show their work:
"It’s highly unusual for an artist to think carefully about what showing might mean. For that reason artists often fall into the trap of showing their work at the wrong time for the wrong reasons".

A bad experience showing your work leads to two scenarios, in my opinion/experience: one is that you rush to re enter the scene thinking you've made substantial improvement to impress your audience, the other is to avoid the market altogether. Both lead to missed opportunities. It's a bit weird to say, but I do agree with manny in that it's not necessary to show your work everywhere, especially if you're not at a level that would warrant a job or a high level of praise. If you've found a solid support group somewhere (which I gather is here), then maybe you should stop posting elsewhere for a while, or limit yourself to 2 or 3 places. Focus on improving yourself and fostering a good relationship in your chosen community, and if you notice a few months down the line you've made a breakthrough then you can share it elsewhere.

Going back to what i said earlier about your comfort zone, notice how very little of what I just said is actually according to my own experience or from my own ideas. Believe it or not, all the answers to your problems have already been solved. And guess what? They're in books. They're in interviews with successful people. They're all over the place. Pick up a book by a philosopher every once in a while. Or a biography of someone famous. Or a book on some cutting edge science on social psychology or on history or on any number of subjects. Or a podcast or video on any of these subjects. It's amazing how there's little nuggets of wisdom hiding around every corner, you just need to look and be willing to extrapolate information into your own life.

For instance, if you're worried about the time its taking you to achieve your goals, did you know it took bill gates 10 years to finish microsoft? Or that he wasn't the richest man a live for another few years after that? Did you know he started being interested in coding from a very young age (something like 10 years old? I can't remember off the top of my head). Think about that. 30 years, give or take, from the time he was interested til the time he became one of the richest men in history. Did you know it took warren buffet almost 5 decades to become a billionnaire?

It's amazing when I think that I used to believe all these rich people have it easy. They literally spent their entire lives working to get what they want, and we artists like to think it's supposed to take 1 year to achieve pro-level. A fundamental principle in biology and evolution is that nature always takes the path of least resistance, true as much in day to day occurences as it is on the molecular level. Maybe that's why we're not all billionaires.

Anyways, I apologize if this was a lot to read. Concision is not my forte, but I hope this helps you.
Wow, thank you for the very thoughtful response, Patrick. I wish I could express how thankful I am for your reply, heh. I think much of what you said was spot-on and I will most certainly take in your advice. In regards to what you and Manny said about limiting where I post my work, I think I will undertake that. For now I will only post on here (and maybe DA, if I have stuff I'm relatively ok with) and really focus on getting my head down. I'm glad to know that you think there have been signs of visible improvement since we last spoke, so I shall certainly carry on with the exercises and studies.

I am considering taking classes or something along those lines in the future, when I'm more suited for that.

This also reminds me that I should really read some more of the Taoist texts, as there's plenty of wisdom in those, some of which I'm sure would apply to this.

Anyway, once again, thank you very much, Patrick. Also, don't worry about posting a large amount of text, it was honestly very helpful. To those reading this thread-sorry about my lack of stuff to post, I promise I'll have some work to show next time I post here.
Man, don't close the door so early. Unless you're financially incapable of taking some sort of class, there's no reason not to start as soon as possible. When I applied to art school in 2012, I had maybe 100 hours of drawing experience so far. I thought I was pretty good then, and then when I went for the little drawing test and interview I realized how bad I actually was compared to the rest. I was easily the worst one there, and the least experienced, and to be honest I was pretty scared I wouldn't be accepted at all which ultimately would have been the death of my art career. But I'm glad I did anyways, because I learned later on that I happened to get the one interviewer among the entire faculty whose acceptance policy is to accept everyone if they are genuinely interested, capable of finishing the program and paying for it, regardless of skill.

Case in point I got lucky. Super, unbelievably lucky. But I did learn that I never would have had that experience at all if I hadn't tried in the first place. After I learned about that interviewers policy I had a completely different attitude towards working and looking for help. Applying to an accredited art school is a different story than just a small class or atelier type environment, as they are usually looking for people who are somewhat established and at a certain skill level. But from what I understand about the atelier system and from small classes, they don't really care. If you pay, show up and do the work they'll accept you. I've also heard that instructors like working with "blank" slates as it were, who have less of an ego than an artist that's already skilled and are therefore more willing to take in the instructors feedback, which is pivotal if you actually want to learn the trade. You can always go to these places and ask if you are ready to be accepted. There are always places looking for beginners to instruct.

In other words, saying no to yourself is always a no. Saying yes to yourself only sometimes ends up as a no, if that makes sense. But you'll never know if you started out by closing that door. "Prepare for what is difficult when it is easy". You might be "better suited" later on, but you don't know if your life situation will accommodate that at that time. Better to act now and at least try while its relatively easy rather than put it off for a somewhat nebulous goal of being "better suited". Unless of course it's a financial or other important reason, in which case disregard what I just said until that is resolved.

Also, I forgot to mention something about values and charcoal before. To learn your values and make them look alright, you need to use what my old teacher used to call "exotopic shading". I don't know if there's a more accepted term, but that's a fancy way of saying that, to properly show form and get a more accurate value scale, you also need to work around the outside of your image as well.

It happens often automatically in paint since we tend to start with a background colour or value, but its often overlooked by beginners in more restrictive media like charcoal. i see you've done it in other works on this page for instance, but it should really be a habit in your renderings to do so, especially if you're going to eliminate the line work. Remember that you can use this even if the background isn't actually darker. You're an artist, not a photographer.


Notice how the grayscale seems much larger now that there's a surrounding value. A dark background will make things look compartively lighter, while a light background will make things look comparatively lighter. Having a background value, regardless of lightness or darkness, will also open up white as a value you can use in the actual rendering itself. You'll also be more aware of how much white you're using in your work, since it's no longer flooding the picture, and can then use it more selectively and gracefully. Most objects tend not to have much white value on them anyways, and when you see someone using a lot of white values its a stylistic rather than realistic choice
Hm, I see. Well, what I meant by referring to a future point in which I would be capable is to do with some personal stuff I'd rather not go into. But it is possible that I could do something like that someday. I realise it's not applying to an art school, but I am looking into attending a local art class at one of the art shops I use, which teaches techniques in a number of mediums I particularly like using. I suppose that's a start.

Also, thank you for the additional advice with charcoal, I'll keep that in mind. To what you previously said about other types of charcoal, I intend to seek some out at some point. Anyway, thank you very much for your responses, Patrick, you've helped me regain my motivation a little bit.

I don't have much to show here for the time being, but I do have another illustration I just finished:

[Image: BZbKevU.jpg]
Today's study, of the rhino beetle Xylotrupes gideon. I must say I rather like working in charcoal. Any advice or critique would be greatly appreciated as usual.

[Image: YGN1OUj.jpg]
It's cool man, no need to go into details. I've just met a lot of people who put off things, for no financial reason or otherwise,, that could boost them up, and then never get anywhere and wonder why. Just make sure that once whatever problems you have are resolved that you work towards something asap. That's mainly what I was trying to say

Also watch out for the haloing when you work in charcoal. It's tempting to want to keep your drawing intact and leave that little line of white around. But it's better to bring that gradient into it. If you need to shade around to remove unwanted halos, just find a nice pointed piece of charcoal, and work starting from the very edge of your drawing and drawing out, rather than filling in the outside and working towards the drawing. If you need to smudge it afterwards, find an old credit card of something thin and stiff that you can wrap a cloth or piece of paper towel and use that to get a nice sharp smudge line. Or you can always get a pencil and build up a soft gradient easily with its tip
Hey man, just read through this whole page, really sorry to hear you've been down about things. I think I experienced some similar feelings a while back, I'll offer some of my thoughts to see if it helps at all. Mainly I guess like others have said, is not to concern yourself with online opinions - that's easier said than done but I feel some steps towards this is to really, concretely and firmly define in your mind why you are doing this, what do you want to achieve this year? next year? in 10 years time? - when you have those goals and dreams deep in your life you can see the online world as a means to an end rather than as a goal in itself. You do your art for yourself and to fulfill your dreams, you make progress on your own - the online world is there to assist your own discovery, not to provide the discoveries for you. It's an important distinction to make, else you're putting hope outside of yourself in something intangible and changeable which can only lead to suffering.

On a more practical note; something I've given a lot of thought to is what do you get from art school that you don't get doing self study? I mean there are loads of differences but I think a lot of it comes down to a rigid timetable, assignments and deadlines. Timetables tell you want to study and when, assignments give you a chance to put it all together and deadlines tell you when it's time to move on to the next thing. You can make these for yourself! It takes willpower and discipline to follow them but you aren't in school, so you can't fail and be kicked out. A structure to follow that's broken down into specific 'goals' is really helpful.

For me, I thought first what the big dream is - comic books
What fundamentals do I need to do that? perspective, figure drawing, composition, gesture
Then I made a daily / weekly and monthly programme to learn and practice those things, with kind of bi-monthly courses of study (work through Hampton, work through Scott Robertson etc.) I give myself 'extensions' if I don't finish in time but at a certain point I hit my 'deadline' and decide that's enough for now and move on. Doing it this way I've been able to look back even just a few weeks or a month and have seen progress 'cause I can do stuff now I couldn't do then. I can expand, edit, redefine this programme as much and as often as I want, since it's my 'school', together with the best teachers in the world (books / video lectures / tutorials / etc.). It's not a big document, it's one side of landscape A4 blue tacced above my desk with big writing on it but it gives me the focus I need. So when I'm down, I don't need to think my way out of a slump, I just do what's written on the paper in front of me. Usually just starting, and drawing, and realising I don't suck as much as I think - or that today I'm sucking but that doesn't matter cause I'm still moving forward - keeps me going really well.

I floated around for ages doing a bit of this and a bit of that but until I sat down and wrote out this programme and got really serious about following it, I just couldn't see my progress cause I was doing too many things at once, and not spending enough time on any of them.

Anyway man, I hope you figure it out! Didn't mean to put too much of my stuff in there but it has really helped. Best of luck!
Patrick-Sure, thank you for the advice. I can see what you mean about the haloing, looking at those last couple of drawings.

Jyonny-Thank you, I guess you're right really, the online world is more of a means to an end than anything else. Perhaps I've just been frustrated (for petty reasons) at the fact I'm yet to really encounter anyone who genuinely enjoys my work. Eh. Thanks for the advice anyway, I might try and structure things like that.

Still feeling a bit down I guess, though it seems that an oppurtunity for myself to take a leisurely art class in the near future has revealed itself, so hopefully that could help me.

Anyway, a couple more value-based charcoal studies from photos of rhino beetles here, of the species Xylotrupes gideon and Dynastes tityus, respectively.

[Image: vXsI0XX.jpg]

[Image: 26Udyio.jpg]

Also for fun and to help motivate myself by collating works and such I think are awesome, I filled in one of those influence map sheets:

[Image: yArRHmL.jpg]
I think traditional work, especially your kind of thing doesn't translate as well when scanned and looked at on a small screen. I know I finish drawing and am really happy, and people around me are interested by it, then I scan it and look at it on the screen and it's just like, missing it's soul or something... not sure how else to describe! it's not even that the flaws are revealed (although sometimes they are), just looks different. I dunno man, just gotta keep at it!

I like the influence chart, really cool, I should do one of those.
Now I know charcoal can get real dark and in the dry media family it's right after conte, and you're not doing it justice my friend! Really explore the subtlety of shading that only charcoal can give you (make sure to clean up after). Sharpen your charcoal on a piece of cardboard or rough paper until you get an edge, and really go in there to define a sharp edge here and there. Use your finger and an old sock/underwear/soft rag to apply full, filling background and large shading area with the powder of charcoal.

Keep it up man! Charcoal is beautiful! Learn it! Love it! It will serve you well...
That art class sounds like a good idea! As useful as advice is online, I'm sure a direct person to person learning experience can only help. Also, a truly unique influence map, I have to say. I think it's unfortunate that there aren't as many ways for those interested in scientific illustration like yourself to learn directly from the professionals. Keep up the studies as well, still lifes seem like the closest way to gain those rendering skills that you seem to be shooting for.
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